The Russian invasion of Ukraine sparked Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, destroying communities and displacing millions. In response, the U.S. government launched a humanitarian parole program, Uniting for Ukraine, designed to provide refuge to Ukrainians in the U.S. But it required something few of its potential beneficiaries had: an American sponsor.
To bridge this gap, a nonprofit organization called Welcome.US, in partnership with Goldman Sachs, launched the Welcome Connect platform to help Ukrainians seeking safety from the onslaught of war connect with Americans willing to sponsor them. Built on ServiceNow’s low-code platform, it went live just two and a half weeks after its design was finalized. The platform has now been expanded to match sponsors with members of other communities eligible for humanitarian parole, including Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans.
For Nazanin Ash, CEO of Welcome.US, helping people displaced by conflict is personal. Her Iranian parents came to the U.S. as students but remained as immigrants after revolution rocked their homeland. In the interview below, which has been edited for length and clarity, she discusses how her background has informed her career, what sets Welcome Connect apart, and why she feels it has as much transformative potential for U.S. sponsors as it does for those seeking refuge.